I became acutely aware of gravity, that I have the ability to lift my feet just enough from our planet that I can go wherever I want, but I’m also held, just enough, so I don’t fly away.
Of course, there’s a problem with walking in the dark, alone. We’re told it’s dangerous, so I do my best to head out around sunset, so I start out with a little daylight and can justify it’s still safe.
In the darkness, there are fewer distractions. The brilliant red and gold leaves on the trees and the deep purple pansies flowering in October don’t compete for my attention. Show me a spot of color and my mind often spins into a kind of awestruck trance or irrelevant questions. “Aren’t pansies only supposed to bloom in the spring? Why are they blooming now? Oh, my God, look at those clouds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen clouds with that intense shade of pink. Damn. Forgot the camera. Again. Maybe if I stare at them long enough, I’ll remember them forever.” And, of course, an occasional car passes by with insolent headlights and foul exhaust, but the comings and goings around houses and buildings are less frequent, details have retreated.
I’m a compulsive multi-tasker, so I always hope that I can work on my writing while stretching my legs after a long day at work, but sometimes I’m unable to get away from ruminating about the garbage of the day or making plans, which I keep trying to tell my mind could wait until I’m cooking or cleaning. But, once in a while, I get lucky. The vast emptiness and quiet that’s surrounds me allows me to clear my mind and it opens as if I’m a conduit accessing different connections. Like I’ve tapped into another force at work in the eternal unknown that enables me to utilize some other kind of power. Perhaps it’s the other 95% of my mind we’re all told we don’t use, I don’t know, but ideas begin to flow.
And, once in a while, I get a jolt.
Like the other night when my youngest daughter was with a group of friends in Seattle and I wanted to go for a walk before it got “too late.” You know, since 7:30 dark isn’t as dangerous as 9:30 dark. So I called her before I left because I didn’t know if I needed to go pick her up. Sometimes one of the other parents brings her home but, if you’re kind of nerdy like I am, you know we get embarrassed about all kinds of things, and this time I didn’t want to “be embarrassed as the friend’s parents drove by with my daughter.” Like I was shirking my parental duty, I guess, even though it’s on their way.
As I reached the corner where I usually turn north to make a roughly 35-block c-shaped loop, I decided to go west on the road that closes the “c” on the south end, then hooks a bit to the left before it comes to the next road, a main arterial. But, when I got to that intersection, I decided I didn’t want to walk along it, since the probability of breathing car exhaust would increase substantially, so I turned around and retraced my steps. As I reached the intersection of the street my daughter and the other parents might be driving on, I thought, “Why am I being so ridiculous? I’ll do the second half of the loop. At least I’ve reduced the odds of crossing paths in half.” So, I turned north, then east a few blocks later, walking down the gentle slope at a leisurely pace and, as I reached the next intersection, where I would turn south to head home, I looked to my left and there was my daughter, walking with another friend.
Can someone tell me the odds of having something like this happen?
That I would leave my house at exactly the right minute and “first decide to, then decide not to” walk a different loop? As my daughter approached, she mentioned she’d taken a couple of minutes to stop by and say hi to another friend who lives along the way, so she was delayed by X number of minutes, just enough that we met on the intersection that would take us home.
This also happened one other time, about a year ago. She was with friends and had gone to Seattle, as well. They live a couple of blocks from us and, that time, I’d decided to walk in the direction of their house, having no idea when they would be arriving, and they pulled into their driveway at the same time I reached it.
So. What? Does it “mean” anything?
I think so. I know some people don’t. Unfortunately, I don’t know the odds for or against it. Or if anyone could even calculate them.
But there is someone who does know about odds, at least about some other facts of life that star gazing often causes us to consider.
My oldest daughter happened to pick up the book, “Stephen Hawking’s Universe,” when she was here during the summer and I’d started it the night before.
I’d also been working on a query letter for my book and had written a statement I felt a little stupid saying, again the dweeb thing where I hate to say something that isn’t correct. I’d written about how my experiences are driving me to challenge “everything” I believe and I thought, “Well, I can’t honestly say that. I believe in gravity and stuff like that.”
But, the next night, I found myself reading about a concept in Hawking’s book that challenges the current way of thinking about gravity. [The “principle of equivalence” was actually developed by Einstein and states: a gravitational field has a “relative existence…there is no such thing as a force of gravity.”] (1)
I thought, “Okay, so what I’m learning is challenging ‘everything’ I think.”
And, for me, it feels like something is going on—running into my daughter, which would not have occurred if either one of us had made one different decision; thinking about gravity as part of a larger question, maybe because the movie(2) is out, but I had a book in my hands at that moment that validated my statement—and I can only explain them by believing that God is truly active in our lives.
When I used to read about serendipitous moments, I thought they only happened once in a lifetime, but these kinds of things have been happening to me a lot. Not daily. But enough that I keep taking notes and the notes are piling up.
I share some other events like this in my book, events that helped me develop ideas about who I am and my thoughts about spirituality, but they keep happening and I don’t know what to do with all of them, so I decided I’d do what I do and keep writing stories about them, since everything I do seems to keep turning into stories.
For my entire life, I always thought I’d wonder, just a little, about whether or not God exists. If you’re wondering about those odds, Hawking says, “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous.”(3)
You may say, “Fine. I agree with that. I believe God exists, but it has nothing to do with meeting your daughter when you were walking.”
Obviously something is happening and the examples I share in my book are even more unique. I don’t know why these kinds of things are happening to me and I don’t know where I’m headed exactly, but I’m working diligently on writing the best book possible so I can share the journey I’ve been on. My path has helped me understand myself and others and includes stories I believe the world needs to hear to move towards greater understanding and peace, stories that may have immense gravity for anyone who is also on a path to a better understanding about who we are and what life is revealing.
(1) Boslough, John. Stephen Hawking’s Universe. New York: W. Morrow, 1985. Print, p 30-32.
(2) So, yeah, the movie, Gravity, is out right now. Is my story cooler or what?
(3) Boslough, John. Stephen Hawking’s Universe. New York: W. Morrow, 1985. Print, p 109.
Note: My apologies for the length of time between blog posts, (and, hey, it hasn’t been that long in the scheme of things), but I work full-time and sometimes more when projects demand it, which meant twelve days in a row over the last week and a half and I’m just getting started with that particular project. And, since I probably need more justification, Guy Kawasaki says we’re insane if we try to keep a blog going while writing a book (although you’ll also find a lot of posts in favor of it, like this one).
When I got started I explained that I was not actually going to be blogging, that I was going to be “zlogging.” Not concerning myself with how often I blogged, that I would blog when I wanted to, when I had something to share, but posts get buried unless we link them to another one.
My site isn’t about content curation—there are enough other people doing that. I also know most people expect that bloggers will happily share tons of content constantly for free, that’s the kind of world we live in, but some people are getting paid by advertisers and I’m not. So, all I can do is hope is that you might consider at least a little payback by letting me know if you appreciate what I’m sharing or that you’re looking forward to my book.
Or, if you know how to calculate the odds of a meeting like my daughter and I had, I’d love to know!